Touchpoints Syracuse Trainers

We are a part of an exclusive network of organizations and collaborations in more than 100 communities globally. We are located in Central New York and provide Touchpoints training and support in the North Country, Southern Tier, and Finger Lakes regions. We are also available to other communities within and outside of New York State. Contact Beth Machan at for more information on training.

Desalyn De-Souza is an Assistant Professor of Community & Human Services and Human Development at the Central New York Center of SUNY Empire State College. She specializes in Early Care and Education of infants and toddlers. Her research interests are focused on the philosophy and practice of continuity of care with infants and toddlers in center-based programs. Prior to joining SUNY Empire State College in 2008, she coordinated a 14-county region of the New York State Infant and Toddler Resource Network, aimed at promoting quality caregiving for infants and toddlers. She currently serves on the board of the Newland Center for Adult Learning & Literacy in Syracuse.

Gretchen Kinnell retired in 2013 as the Senior Professional Development Specialist at Child Care Solutions in Syracuse, New York. In her 23 years there she served as the Education Director and developed and presented many workshops and courses for child care providers and parents. She is an instructor in child development and infant-toddler courses at Onondaga Community College. She is the author of two books on toddler issues published by Redleaf Press: No Biting: Policy and Practice for Toddler Programs and a corresponding pamphlet Why Children Bite: A Family Companion to No Biting and Good Going: Successful Potty Training for Children in Child Care and a soon-to-be-released family companion pamphlet. She authored a chapter on teen parents for Families, Infants & Young Children at Risk: Pathways to Best Practice by Gail L. Ensher, Ed D., David A. Clark, M.D. and Nancy S. Songer, M.S. published in 2009 by Brookes Publishing Co. Gretchen remains a valued member of the Touchpoints team.

Bethany Creaser is the Parent Education Program Manager at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County. Using Touchpoints as a foundation, she facilitates the Incredible Years parenting series and the Lullaby League infant care course for parents of all ages. Bethany also supervises case managers working with the Onondaga County Health Department’s Healthy Families Program. She was a Program Director at the Salvation Army, Syracuse Area Services for ten years, coordinating street outreach, afterschool programs, and case management for runaway and homeless youth. She is a certified Bridges out of Poverty trainer and has been an active member and team leader of the City County Trauma Response Network since 1999. Bethany obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from SUNY Cortland in 1997.

Michelle Haas is the Parent Education Director at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County. Prior to Catholic Charities she worked for P.E.A.C.E Inc. Head Start as Program Coordinator and Family Advocate/Center Director. Her priority and commitment is to assist and support parents who face barriers that affect their ability to raise their children in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment. The Parent Education programs offer education, support and linkages to community resources for pregnant teens and parents with children under 12 years of age through intensive home visiting services and evidence based parent education classes. Michelle has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and is a Family Development Credentialing Consultant/Trainer, Exploring Parenting Trainer, and Incredible Years Educator.

Diane Toscano, MSW, ACSW has been a Touchpoints trainer since the beginning of this project. Diane works as an Education Specialist for Healthy Families at the Onondaga County Health Department. She also is an Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University, David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics in the School of Social Work and Empire State College. Diane has worked for 36 years in the field of child welfare in positions of direct practice and on an administrative level. Her journey has included work with children and families in the areas of: adolescent pregnancy, child protective services, corrections, disability services, early intervention, mental health, residential care, and special education.

Beth Machan, MS, is a Program Coordinator for Healthy Families at the Onondaga County Health Department, working with Syracuse Healthy Start and the Community Health Worker Program. Throughout her career, Beth has held administrative, supervisory, and direct practice positions working with children and families in both New York State and North Carolina. She is an Adjunct Professor at SUNY Empire State College, and an original member of the Syracuse Touchpoints team.

Laura Jenkins is an Occupational Therapist, Special Education Teacher, and Early Intervention Service Coordinator at the Liberty POST Program in Syracuse, NY. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from SUNY Buffalo, Master’s Degree in Special Education from Syracuse University, and is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming Practitioner. She has over 33 years of experience working with infants and children in a variety of settings including home, day care, school, outpatient and acute care. She co-teaches two master’s level courses, with Mary Beth Sullivan, at Syracuse University: Developmental Therapy for Children With Disabilities, and Partners In Care: The Parent-Professional Relationship. Sensory processing/integration, reduction of stress and coping techniques for children and the adults that care for them, as well as strong, positive collaborations with parents and interdisciplinary teams are specialty areas of interest. Laura has co-authored, with Mary Beth Sullivan, the chapter “Professionals and Families: Partners in Care” in the book Relationship-Centered Practices in Early Childhood: Working with Families, Infants, & Young Children At Risk, by Gail Ensher and David Clark.

Mary Beth Sullivan is a Speech Language Pathologist who currently works for the Margaret L. Williams Developmental Evaluation Center, focusing on children with special needs in the birth to 5 populaton. Mary Beth obtained her Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology from Nazareth College and has been involved in the Early Intervention Process with children and families for more than 30 years. She is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming Practitioner. She teaches courses at Syracuse University, in conjunction with Laura Jenkins – Partners in Care: The Parent-Professional Relationship and Developmental Therapy for Children with Special Needs. She has co-authored the chapter “Professionals and Families: Partners in Care” in the book Relationship-Centered Practices in Early Childhood: Working with Families, Infants, & Young Children at Risk by Gail Ensher and David Clark. Mary Beth has been a strong advocate for family centered practice for many years and is passionate about strengthening the parent-child bond as a means of cultivating strong children and healthy adults.